CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Monday night’s NFC South battle between the Panthers and Saints featured top draft pick Bryce Young at Carolina’s quarterback and offseason addition Derek Carr under center for New Orleans, but each team’s strong defense controlled the game.
The Saints finally scored the game’s first touchdown late in the third quarter, then pulled away late to win 20-17. The Saints enter Week 3 with a 2-0 record, while the Panthers fall to 0-2.
New Orleans Saints
Give the Saints defense the MVP award for the second week in a row. The unit put together another shaky outing for the offense with a stifling performance against Young and the Panthers. The defense kept the rookie quarterback on his heels most of the night, limiting him to 22 completions for 153 yards, thanks to a four-man rush that totaled four sacks. The Saints offense struggled again, failing to score in the first half for the second straight week, but was able to keep pace after a 42-yard pass to Chris Olave set up a touchdown. third quarter.
Disturbing trend: Offensive line play. There’s certainly talent on an O-line stocked with first-round picks, but the unit hasn’t been able to put things together this season. The Saints allowed Carr to be sacked four times, bringing the season total to eight in two games. Although New Orleans had more success in the running game than last week, running back Jamaal Williams left the game early with a hamstring issue.
QB breakdown: Carr didn’t have an easy time early, throwing a bad interception and making his timing with his receivers look bad. The Saints had to settle for field goals instead of getting into the end zone. But like last week, Carr was able to make the plays when it counted. The throw to Olave was the first 20-yard play by either team, and that seemed to make something click, as Carr followed with another key throw to Rashid Shaheed and a toss to Olave who established the final touchdown.
Mind-blowing statistic: The Saints have allowed 20 points or fewer for a franchise-record 10th straight game, dating back to last season, and it doesn’t appear to be a fluke. The defense gave up less than 300 net yards for the second straight week and collected four more sacks, bringing the season total to seven. The only blemish so far was a late Panthers touchdown with 1:16 remaining ; it was the first TD allowed by the Saints this season.
Next game: at Green Bay Packers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Young and the Panthers’ offense wasn’t ready for prime time Monday night at Bank of America Stadium. The first overall pick in the draft had a dismal performance, although it wasn’t entirely Young’s fault. His offensive line constantly collapsed, putting the former Alabama star under constant pressure against only a four-man rush. But under pressure, Young didn’t respond at all until a 26-yard run in the fourth quarter. After completing 2 of 10 passes and being sacked once against pressure in the first game, he was 3 of 8 for 13 yards with four sacks and a fumble in this one.
He did a good job getting rid of the ball and making some plays with his legs, but he never did in the passing game – he still couldn’t complete more than 15 yards. These are all reasons why Carolina has only scored two touchdowns in the first two games, and Young’s inexperience continues to be at the forefront.
Disturbing trend: Young and the Panthers on third down. The Panthers were 4 of 14 on third downs, and Young was a major reason for the ineffectiveness, going 4 of 9 for 32 yards with two sacks and two scrambles on third downs.
Biggest hole in the game plan: What to do on third and short. The Panthers can’t use quarterback because Young (5-foot-10, 204 pounds) simply isn’t big enough to make it work. Moreover, he has no experience in this field. So Carolina had to call on backup quarterback Andy Dalton for these games. The first time there was a false start. On second, Dalton threw to running back Miles Sanders for a first down, but that could be a problem moving forward.
Crucial game: On the first series of the second half, Young completed a strip-sack that would have put the Saints in the red zone with a 6-3 lead. It could have been disastrous, but the play was called off, thanks to a defensive holding penalty. This allowed Carolina to stay within striking distance until the end.
Next game: at Seahawks (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)